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Antonia set to be queen of the Castle at Pontefract

 

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Given the way Ralph Beckett has started the belated new Flat season, Antonia De Vega looks impossible to oppose in the Pontefract Castle Fillies' Stakes.  (stock photo)

Given the way Ralph Beckett has started the belated new Flat season, Antonia De Vega looks impossible to oppose in the Pontefract Castle Fillies' Stakes. (stock photo)

Given the way Ralph Beckett has started the belated new Flat season, Antonia De Vega looks impossible to oppose in the Pontefract Castle Fillies' Stakes. (stock photo)

Given the way Ralph Beckett has started the belated new Flat season, Antonia De Vega looks impossible to oppose in the Pontefract Castle Fillies' Stakes.

Beckett is operating at a near-25 per cent strike-rate and won a race similar to this at Haydock last weekend with Manuela De Vega in the same ownership.

The two fillies actually took each other on in a Group One in Germany at the end of last season and, while Manuela De Vega came out on top when finishing second, Antonia De Vega was not far behind in fourth.

She is a long way clear on official ratings and, although that sort of thing can never strictly be relied on in races of this nature, she does have upwards of 10lb in hand over all of her rivals.

Mark Johnston's Meraas could be the safest option in the Mum And Dad Reunited Love Team Wood Handicap.

Second on debut at Wolverhampton just before the shutdown, he looked a different proposition entirely when winning at Kempton in the first week of racing.

The break really looked to have done him good as the result was never in doubt at any stage. He breezed away from William Haggas' cold front, who has been narrowly beaten since. The Michael Dods-trained Troubador sets the standard, but he was a long way below his best on his reappearance at Newcastle.

Hugo Palmer's Zoran begins life off a reasonable mark of 74 now he is out of novice company in the Coral Handicap at Goodwood.

Beautifully bred, his dam is a full-sister to Australia and he caught the eye on debut when making nice progress to be beaten just over two lengths at Lingfield.

Quietly fancied next time out, he had no answer to Waldkonig who left him trailing, but there was no disgrace in that as the winner is held in high regard and has been placed in Listed company since.

Some may have viewed his reappearance run at Newcastle recently as marginally disappointing when he could finish only fourth, but there were a couple of promising types in front of him.

The handicapper looks to have given him a chance in this grade and the recent run will have sharpened him up.

Prince Imperial is from a classic Juddmonte family and can pick up where he left off last season by winning the Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Novice Stakes at Kempton.

By Frankel out of Group One heroine Proportional, Prince Imperial is trained by Sir Michael Stoute and after a pleasing debut he won well in a first-time visor at Chelmsford. Stoute has started the season well and the step up in trip looks sure to suit.

The best bet at Chepstow could be Beckett's Time Scale, who was sent off favourite for her recent debut.

She did not show a great deal when seventh of 12 at Newmarket, but the market confidence suggests she has been showing plenty at home.

SELECTIONS:

CHEPSTOW: 4.55 Time Scale, 5.25 The Right Choice, 5.55 One Night Stand, 6.25 Chitra, 6.55 Spurofthemoment, 7.25 Ametist, 7.55 Memory Hill, 8.25 Johnny Kid, 8.55 Chez Hans.

FAIRYHOUSE: 1.00 Giorgio Vasari, 1.30 Lilandra, 2.00 Elzaamone, 2.35 The Cola Kid, 3.05 Rayounpour, 3.35 Mister Blue Sky, 4.05 Take A Turn, 4.35 Tronador.

GOODWOOD: 12.00 Dark Company, 12.35 Fromnowon, 1.10 Pettochside, 1.40 Feathers, 2.10 Sir Roderic, 2.45 Variyann, 3.15 Zoran, 3.45 Elham Valley.

KEMPTON: 4.30 First Kingdom, 5.05 Aegeus, 5.35 Prince Imperial, 6.05 Float, 6.35 Finely Tuned, 7.05 Red Secret.

PONTEFRACT: 12.20 Lost My Sock, 12.50 Bowman, 1.20 Meraas, 1.50 Northern Hope, 2.20 Storm Ahead, 2.50 ANTONIA DE VEGA (NAP), 3.25 My Girl Maggie, 3.55 Calevade, 4.25 Zihaam, 5.00 George Mallory.

ROSCOMMON: 4.15 Strongbowe, 4.45 Kosman, 5.15 Blackcatblackitten, 5.45 Longclaw, 6.15 Adamaris, 6.45 Moving Forward, 7.15 Grace To Grace.

DOUBLE: Antonia De Vega and Zoran.

Belfast Telegraph